By Elizabeth M. Truong
Concordia Plan Services (CPS) — the Synod’s benefits provider — announced in January that the Concordia Health Plan (CHP) “Be Well Rewards” program has been extended through the end of 2012.
Some 28,500 CHP members are eligible to participate in the program.
This year, the rewards program will offer up to $300 in rewards for each member and enrolled spouse (with the exception of members with Medicare supplemental coverage), which is $50 more than it offered last year. The program is designed to reward healthy behavior, citing studies that show how healthier lifestyles reduce health risks while contributing to productivity for healthier ministries.
“Last year, nearly 12,000 Concordia Health Plan members participated in the Be Well Rewards program, said Steve Gruenwald, Concordia Plan Services Health and Wellness educator. “[They] not only earned money for their healthy behaviors, but they improved their health. This year, we’ve updated the menu of activities and added a $50 bonus opportunity to help members make healthy habits a part of their daily routines – all while earning rewards for themselves and their organizations. Most importantly, we pray that these incentives encourage everyone to start taking those next steps toward living a healthier life!”
New for 2012, the program offers rewards for participation in approved weight-loss programs and preventive dental and eye exams. Additionally, a $50 bonus is available for members who complete the physical activity aspect of the program four times in a row (totaling 24 consecutive weeks).
The Be Well Rewards program was introduced in May 2011, providing Concordia Health Plan members with incentives to make healthy decisions and become a healthier population of church workers. In 2011 more than 2,500 employers received financial rewards because of the healthy efforts of their workers.
Employees and spouses who participate in the 2012 program also may share their “journey of wellness” story through the Be Well Rewards website (www.bewellservewell.com) at any point throughout the year — earning 25 points, which convert to $25 toward their total 2012 rewards.
Such “journey of wellness” stories may be similar to those already shared via the website by the Rev. Jeff Alexander, pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Greenwood, Ind., and Kelly O’Toole of Oak Forest, Ill., who serves on the staff of the Early Childhood Education Center at Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, Ill. Both participated in the 2011 Be Well Rewards program.
“The older I get, the more I realize that most everyone seems to struggle with exercising regularly,” Alexander wrote. “Though we all know the benefits of an active lifestyle and being physically fit, the stressors of work life, family life, social life and even congregational life often pull us away from taking care of these ‘temples of the Holy Spirit’ we manage by God’s grace.
“During the past several years, I have joined with about a dozen other men from the congregation I pastor to commit ourselves to participating in an area men’s basketball league,” Alexander explained. “During the spring and summer months, we play competitive basketball games against other Lutheran men each Thursday evening. During the fall and winter months, we play these games on Saturday afternoons. Playing together on the hardwood has not only benefited our bodies, but also our congregational health as I’ve witnessed great growth in our men stepping up to their high callings as husbands, fathers and leaders in the church. We enjoy fellowship time after each game and, just this year, have launched an official Men’s Ministry at Mount Olive that includes monthly gatherings for Bible study, prayer and service, plus an annual men’s retreat at a nearby Lutheran camp._ God is working in my life and in the lives of other men in my congregation to bring us to greater levels of wellness in body, mind and spirit.”
O’Toole wrote, “About four years ago, at just 23 years old, I hit rock bottom. At a height of 5 feet, 4 inches, I was weighing in at a very uncomfortable 229 pounds. My feet hurt, my back hurt and I was done being overweight. Within a few weeks, I joined a local gym and began working with a personal trainer twice a week. The trainer was just the boost I needed. She pushed me to my limit, we shed a few tears together and I ran my first 5K. Less than a year later, I had lost 51 pounds! I felt great and had a new-found motivation to remain healthy.
“Now, four years later, at 27 years old, I have kept most of the weight off, but struggle to remain as active as I used to be. The Be Well Rewards program was just the added drive I was looking for. With the help of a popular online food diary, I am on a mission to keep the pounds off!”
In 2012, just as in 2011, employers will earn a one-to-one match for every dollar that their workers (and their enrolled spouses) earn by participating in these activities. Employers are then encouraged to re-invest reward money in equipment, building improvements, programs or other measures that will continue to help employees improve their physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
Detailed information about the various components of this year’s program was mailed to all enrolled employees in February. For more information, visit www.bewellservewell.com or call 888-927-7526.
Elizabeth M. Truong is a staff writer with LCMS Communications.
Posted March 13, 2012